July 10, 2011

Hemp Chia Pudding

For the past couple of weeks, I've had a new breakfast obsession.  No, it's not oatmeal or even green smoothies.  It's chia pudding and it's the perfect summer breakfast.  Let me count the ways: 1) it's served chilled or at room temperature so there's no need to turn on the oven or stove, 2) it's completely portable (I've been enjoying it on the train to work), 3) it fills me up and holds me over 'til lunch without weighing heavily on my stomach, 4) it's easily customizable, 5) it's delicious! Oh, and it's also 100% raw, vegan, and completely nutritious.  What's not to love?

When I first started making chia pudding, I used a very basic 'recipe,' if you could even call it that-- it was just almond milk, vanilla extract, and chia seeds.  I enjoyed the simplicity, but after awhile, I got a little bored.  Enter dates and hemp seeds.  I love the flavor of both, though I hear some people are turned off by the "earthy/ grassy" flavor of hemp, it's never been a deal-breaker for me.  With just a little extra time an effort, these two ingredients really amp up both the flavor and nutritional profile of your basic chia pudding.

I topped this morning's bowl with banana, wild blueberries, raw cacao nibs, and almond butter.  Other great topping options are unsweetened shredded coconut, homemade granola, and whatever fresh or dried fruit you have on hand.

And by the way, if you're wondering what's so great about chia seeds (or hemp seeds) nutritionally, here's a quick run down: brands differ, but 2 tablespoons of chia seeds have about 6- 8 grams of fiber and 3- 4 grams of protein.  They're also a good source of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  Hemp seeds also contain Omegas and are a good source of iron, potassium, magnesium and protein, with 2 tablespoons containing 8 grams of protein and all 8 essential amino acids (making them a complete protein).  But now, onto the recipe...

Hemp Chia Pudding
Serves 2- 3

1 3/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 medjool dates, pitted
2- 3 tablespoons raw, shelled hemp seeds
2- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup raw chia seeds

In a food processor or blender, add all ingredients except the chia seeds and blend until smooth (or as smooth as you can get it in whatever device you're using).  Pour the milk mixture into a large bowl (use the same vessel that you're going to store it in) and mix in the chia seeds, making sure they stay separate and do not clump.  Let the mixture sit for about 10- 15 minutes and stir again, breaking up any clumps with a fork, if they've formed.  At this time, you may either transfer the mixture to the refrigerator to set up, or leave it at room temperature and move it to the fridge in another half hour or so. 

The pudding will last in the fridge for at least a week.  Add more almond milk as needed if mixture becomes too thick.  Enjoy chilled or at room temperature with whatever toppings you like!

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